• Spain's news in English
 
Spanish Face of the Week
Ada Colau: Fighting on the home front
Colau referred to a bank representative as "a criminal, not an expert, and that's how you should treat him". Photo: Imagen en Acción/Flickr

Ada Colau: Fighting on the home front

Published: 26 Feb 2013 15:32 GMT+01:00
Updated: 27 Feb 2013 09:05 GMT+01:00

So who is Ada Colau?

She’s a 38-year-old civil rights activist from Barcelona who recently called both Spain’s stringent mortgage law, and a renowned banker who praised it, "criminal". She then added, "I would've preferred to have thrown a shoe at him, but chose not to as I had some important things to say today in parliament".

Tell me more about her.
 
Ada has been the public face of the PAH (Platform for those Affected by Mortgages) for the past four years. This social lobby group has stopped around 600 evictions and continues to denounce an evictions regime it claims has caused the suicides of many people.
 
The platform gained momentum and a higher profile from the 15M and Democracia real YA! (Real Democracy NOW!) movements of 2012, which saw hundreds of thousands of Spaniards, if not millions, take to the street in protest against the pitiful state of the economy.
 
But Ada still remained a relatively unknown face in Spain until just recently.
 
So what’s changed?
 
On January 29th her condemnation of the banking community in parliament made her the new voice of the average José on the street. Hundreds of thousands have already watched her eloquent but passionate demolition of the evictions regime on YouTube, and her Twitter following has quadrupled in less than three weeks to more than 36,000.
 
 
Is there anything else she’s famous for?
 
No, there’s more. Ada and the PAH managed to gather 1.4 million signatures for an initiative calling on parliament to amend Spain’s intransigent mortgage law, which not only empowered courts to evict defaulting debtors but also to embargo their assets and future earnings.
 
Colau and her colleagues went to parliament on February 12th to call for legal changes to allow outstanding mortgage debt to be liquidated on surrender of the property.
 
But the PP was having none of it and chose to vote against the initiative on the grounds that it had its own proposals that would make the petition obsolete.
 
That was until Basque MP Uxue Barkos informed the house that a couple in Mallorca had just committed suicide after finding out they were to be evicted.
 
Colau and other PAH activists heckled PP speakers and chanted "¡Sí, se puede!" (Yes, we can!) and "bastards", until they were expelled from the public gallery. The PP speaker in congress Jesus Posadas was then caught on microphone calling out to the ushers: "Fuck, have them thrown out!"
 
 
But during a corruption scandal involving handouts made to many top officials and with the overall reputation of the party in tatters, PP deputies could not really avoid giving Ada Colau a national stage on which to talk about Spain’s housing crisis.
 
What's next for her then?
 
Ada has been hailed by many Spaniards as a modern day heroine who is standing up to a lacklustre government with no sympathy for those being forced out of their homes.
 
There have already been calls for her to enter parliament, but she says “it’s the assembly that will decide my future”.
 
In the meantime, Colau appears adamant about continuing the fight against evictions.

Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Catalonia votes
Court launches case against Catalan leader
Prosecutors have accused Catalan president Artur Mas of civil disobedience, abuse of power and embezzlement of public funds for pressing ahead with the vote. Photo: AFP

Court launches case against Catalan leader

Catalonia's president Artur Mas was placed under investigation on Monday for holding a banned vote on whether his region should be independent from Spain. READ  

Bilbao praises 'museum that saved a city'
The Guggenheim museum in Bilbao has just had its lease extended for another 20 years. Photo: Stefano Montagner/Flickr

Bilbao praises 'museum that saved a city'

Locals in Bilbao say an art museum helped save their Spanish city from decline. Now they are glad to know their saviour, the Guggenheim, will be staying for some time. READ  

Christmas lottery
Spain's 'fat one' lottery too much for crying girl
Marguette breaks down in tears after getting tongue tied while drawing Spain's Christmas lottery numbers. Screen grab: Efecto de Sonido/Youtube

Spain's 'fat one' lottery too much for crying girl

Drawing the numbers of Spain's lottery, the world’s richest with total prizes of €2.2 billion ($2.7 billion), proved a bit too much for one little girl on Monday when she broke down in tears after getting tongue-tied. READ  

Spanish science
Ancient anchors hint at Spain–Viking link
A Viking longship during the Up Helly Aa festival in the Shetland Islands, Scotland. File photo: Andy Buchanan/AFP

Ancient anchors hint at Spain–Viking link

Researchers from Aberdeen University in the UK are planning an archaeological dig that could confirm for the first time that Vikings made their home along Spain's northern coast. READ  

Podemos 'covered in crap': government official
The secretary-general of Spain's Podemos Party Pablo Iglesias (centre) with fellow party leader Íñigo Errejón. Photo: Dani Pozo/AFP

Podemos 'covered in crap': government official

A spokesperson for Spain's ruling Popular Party has raised eyebrows by saying the country's hugely popular new anti-austerity party Podemos is "covered in filth, not to say crap" in the wake of a recent scandal. READ  

JobTalk Spain
Flu costs Spanish firms €1.2 billion a year

Flu costs Spanish firms €1.2 billion a year

Between 10 and 17 percent of sick days taken in Spain are down to the influenza virus, costing Spanish firms over 60 million lost work hours at a cost of over €1 billion ($1.2 billion) every year, new figures show. READ  

Starving kids abandoned in Spanish home

Starving kids abandoned in Spanish home

Police in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo have found three children, abandoned in a house and showing signs of malnourishment, prompting a nationwide search for their mother. READ  

Royal corruption
Spanish princess to be tried for fraud
Spain's Princess Cristina (L) with former Spanish king Juan Carlos. File photo: AFP

Spanish princess to be tried for fraud

Spain's Princess Cristina is to be tried in court for tax fraud in what is a first for the Spanish royal family, the judge overseeing the case said on Monday. READ  

Terrorism in Spain
Basque government to help terror group disarm
People hold banners reading "Exiles and prisoners back home' during a 2014 pro-Eta demonstration in Bayonne, France. Photo: Gaizka Iroz/AFP

Basque government to help terror group disarm

The regional Basque government on Sunday unveiled a plan to facilitate the disarmament process of the terrorist group Eta, amid frustration over a lack of response from the Spanish government three years after the group ended its campaign of violence. READ  

Protesters slam Spain's tough new security law
People protest against Spain's new public security law ("ley mordaza") in Madrid on Saturday. Photo: Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP

Protesters slam Spain's tough new security law

Thousands of people across Spain protested against the country's new Citizen Security Law on Saturday, with critics saying the legislation seriously limits free speech. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Nativity donkey squashed by fat fan
Society
Lifting the lid on Spain's mysterious Christmas lottery
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
What's On
Top 12 things to do in Spain over Christmas
Politics
Spain passes tough new 'anti-protest' law
Business & Money
Google News quits Spain in paid content row
What's On
How to party like a Spaniard: the ultimate guide
Society
Madrid's shocking slum shames Spanish capital
National
Policeman mauled by lions at Barcelona zoo
Business & Money
Uber eyes appeal against Spain ban
Travel
Google offers virtual views of Spain's wonders
Sponsored Article
Top ten gifts for an expat Christmas
Education
Three Spanish business schools makes Europe's top 10
Health
Spain officially free of Ebola: World Health Organization
Travel
Ten Spanish museums you need to know about
National
Can you pass the Spanish citizenship test?
Sponsored Article
Win a €250 voucher for your Christmas list
National
Malaga: mini-tornado causes damage on coast
National
Google Maps 'undeletes' famous Cordoba mosque
National
Riot cops star in Down Syndrome calendar
What's On
What's on in Spain: December 2014
Sponsored Article
Travel & live like a local with Home Exchange
National
'Plane laser' finds Roman gold mines in Spain
National
From the Armada to Orwell: ten great quotes about Spain
National
34 percent of Spain's workers on €645 minimum wage
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
Society
The Duchess of Alba: eight amazing facts
International
'World's longest railway' links Madrid and China
What's On
What's on in Spain: November 2014
International
MPs call on Spain to recognize Palestine
International
VIDEO: Greenpeace activist injured in Canary Islands oil clash
Education
Spaniards are speaking better English than ever: study
Politics
The Dummies' Guide to Spain's new Podemos Party
National
Ten Spanish dishes to try before you die
Property
Spain's golden visa scheme struggles to take off
National
80 percent of voters say 'yes' to independent Catalonia
Society
Ten things you should never say to a Spaniard
National
Boardgame cashes in on Spain's corruption crisis
Society
Real's Ronaldo world's second richest athlete
National
Priests slam Spain's jacuzzi-loving 'archbishop of bling'
National
Ten shocking corruption cases hurting Spain
National
Seville: Erasmus student dies in selfie fall
Travel
Top ten: brilliant Barcelona restaurants
Society
Dad told to pay child support to 29-year-old daughter
Politics
'We're sorry': Spanish PM apologizes over corruption scandals
Tech
Meet Mr Biceps: Spanish policeman heats up Instagram
National
37 arrested as massive anti-corruption raids rattle Spain
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

590
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply